News Column

Investor Icahn places bet on Gannett

August 14, 2014

By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY

Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a 6.6% stake in Gannett, saying he wants a role in the company's planned split of its TV, digital and newspaper divisions.

Icahn's stake in Gannett -- publisher of USA TODAY--was disclosed Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Icahn said in the 13D filing that Gannett shares are undervalued. Gannett CEO Gracia Martore announced on Aug. 5 that the newspaper and broadcasting divisions would be split and traded as separate companies by mid-2015.

The 13D filing says Icahn and his partners plan to "have discussions" with Gannett management and its board of directors "relating to the planned separation, corporate governance, capitalization and capital allocation."

Gannett shares were up 4.9% to $35.70 in after-hours trading, when the filing was disclosed.

Under the company's spinoff plan, Gannett's 82 daily newspapers in the U.S. and its United Kingdom-based Newsquest division would operate as a publishing company; 46 owned or operated Gannett TV stations and digital businesses, including websites and CareerBuilder, would operate as a separate entity.

Icahn was not available for comment. A spokeswoman said Icahn says the 13D-filing "speaks for itself." Icahn began accumulating shares in June but, under SEC guidelines, would not have had to formally disclose a stake until it surpassed 5%.

Icahn, a legendary investor for more than five decades, is noted for creating value -- and goading corporate boards to enhance shareholder value. At 78, he shows little sign of slowing down. Recent investments have included Apple, eBay and Herbalife.

"We are happy to discuss our plans with Mr. Icahn, as we do with all of our shareholders," says Gannett spokesman Jeremy Gaines.


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Source: USA Today

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